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Afghanistan Suspends US Security Talks


Afghanistan has suspended negotiations with the U.S. on a bilateral security deal, in a dispute over proposed U.S. talks with the Taliban.

A statement from Afghanistan's National Security Council Wednesday cited "the contradiction between acts and the statements made" by the U.S. in regard to the peace process.

The U.S. talks with Afghanistan are focused on what American and coalition security forces will remain in the country after 2014.

On Tuesday, the U.S. announced it was opening talks with the Taliban on Thursday in Doha, the capital of the Persian Gulf country of Qatar, in a push to establish a framework for ending more than a decade of war in Afghanistan.

Related - US, Afghanistan to Hold Talks with Taliban

President Barack Obama said he is not surprised by the Afghan government's reaction. He says U.S. officials had anticipated that there would be some areas of "friction" at the start of the process.

During a Wednesday news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he said he hoped that despite challenges, the reconciliation process in Afghanistan would proceed.

Kabul feels the U.S. decision to meet the militants in a formal setting outside of Afghanistan undermines the role of the Afghan government.

An attack on Bagram air base killed four U.S. soldiers hours after the U.S. announced the talks with the Taliban. The insurgent group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it fired two rockets into the base.

Related - Taliban Claim Killing of 4 US Troops

Senior U.S. State Department and White House officials are expected to meet in Doha with a Taliban delegation, in what authorities are describing as preliminary talks.

President Karzai's government was not expected to participate in the initial round of the Doha talks. To date, the Taliban has refused to talk publicly with the Karzai government.

President Karzai said Tuesday his government intended to send envoys to Qatar to try to open peace talks in Kabul.

"The principles are that the talks, having begun in Qatar, must immediately be moved to Afghanistan; second, that the talks must bring about an end to violence in Afghanistan; third, that the talks must not become a tool for any third country for exploitation with regard to its or their interests in Afghanistan," he said.

Karzai made his comments Tuesday during a ceremony in which Afghan forces took over responsibility for security for the entire country from the NATO military coalition set to leave the country next year.
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